Emily Wester was impressed when the guy she was on a date with opened up about having a lot of experience in therapy. They got on well, went out on more dates and the 32-year-old project manager caught feelings. Eventually they became boyfriend and girlfriend. Years into the relationship, she discovered he had a “huge coke addiction” and it became clear that he’d vastly exaggerated his experience with therapy. “He’d been referred to the NHS for six sessions and only went to about two,” she says.
They carried on with their relationship, but when things became strained during lockdown, Wester – who was actually in therapy – convinced him to see a professional. “Clearly, he didn’t tell them anything, because he came back and told me, ‘Oh, they said I didn’t need therapy.’” she says. “This is a man still addicted to cocaine, who’s had a lot of childhood trauma. Nobody would have said he didn’t need therapy if he’d actually told them what was going on.”
Of course, you can’t make someone go to therapy if they aren’t ready, and Wester in no way underestimates how difficult it must’ve been for him. But his lack of honesty meant she ended up in a situation she could have avoided. “If he hadn’t been so skilled at seeming like one kind of person in the beginning, I wouldn’t have ended up in a relationship at all,” she says.
This kind of behaviour has been the talk of group chats and social media for some time now. “I just went on the worst date of my life with a man who said he had ‘completed therapy’”, writes one Twitter user. “It’s the men who tell you their therapist told them they’re fine you want to watch out for,” writes another. “What they really mean is they expect you to be their therapist. They haven’t figured out how to word it properly yet,” writes a third. The list goes on.
We’re calling it ‘therapy-baiting’; aka the cultural phenomenon of people (mainly men, sorry) using their experience of therapy as a pulling method to appear sensitive, therefore sending us into a swooning, fanny flutter-induced haze. In some cases, the perpetrators exaggerate …….